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This Is The Exact Moment The Blacklist Jumped The Shark

On paper, "The Blacklist" has a premise with a pretty definite shelf life. When a mysterious criminal that's bordering on pure supervillainy starts working with the FBI, you'd expect any show to deplete every possible secret and plot twist over three seasons or so. Yet, the NBC crime thriller has not only endured, but outright succeeded for nearly a decade. A lot of this has to do with the fact that criminal mastermind-turned-informant Raymond Reddington is a genuinely compelling character, played by the eternally charismatic James Spader to the tune of two Golden Globe nominations (via IMDb). It doesn't exactly hurt that the mysteries "The Blacklist" plays with are genuinely compelling, and several of its plot twists come with a lengthy setup and a magnificent payoff. 

Normally, "The Blacklist" thrives on big-impact moments that other shows might call jumping the shark. What other show could casually reveal after multiple seasons that its beloved main character has been an impostor all along, and keeps the bones of the real Reddington in a suitcase? However, even a show this wild has a jump-the-shark moment it hasn't really been able to shake off — it just took "The Blacklist" eight seasons to get there. Weirdly enough, the particular moment itself doesn't rank among the show's visually or tonally wildest moments, since it's just the surprise death of a character. However, when said character happens to be the emotional backbone of the whole show, things get a bit more complicated. Here's why the death of Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) is the moment "The Blacklist" jumped the shark.

When Liz Keen dies, the show as we know dies with it

While Raymond Reddington (or whoever he may really be) is the character "The Blacklist" revolves around, Megan Boone's Elizabeth Keen is the character Red revolves around. Their extremely complicated relationship is the backbone of the series, and when Liz dies, one of the show's biggest reasons to exist dies with her. It doesn't help that the death scene of this hugely important character is so sudden and unsatisfying that "The Blacklist" fans considered it a total disappointment.

Sure, Reddington is a complex and endlessly fascinating person. The show establishes it in the very first episode of Season 1, and spends eight entire seasons building upon the character's awesomeness, every once in a while peeling off a layer or two of mystery to keep things interesting. However, without Liz to anchor him, the show has to come up with increasingly contrived ways to bring the Task Force members together, and Red with them. The constant Liz references Season 9 makes readily affirm the giant shadow her absence casts over the show.

Even worse, "The Blacklist" is heading toward an incredibly satisfying conclusion before Elias VanDyke (Lukas Hassel) kills Liz. The long-spanning story arc between Red and Liz is just reaching its conclusion in a simultaneously natural and shocking conclusion, when she seem set to kill him and take over his vast criminal empire. Killing Liz instead may allow the show to keep going — because, let's face it, there's no way "The Blacklist" could survive without James Spader — but the show's main conflict, and perhaps even its soul, goes when she goes. 

Even bigger shark jumps could still be coming

Season 9 of "The Blacklist" isn't bad TV by any stretch of imagination, but the shockwaves that Liz's death send across the board are consistent with the typical aftermath of a show jumping the shark. There's a big time skip. Dembe Zuma (Hisham Tawfiq) — who, while an amazing character, is also the longtime right-hand man of the world's most dangerous criminal — is now an FBI agent, which raises some interesting questions about the quality of the agency's background checks regardless of how much help he received from the inside. Worryingly, longtime cast members are also leaving in droves. While the show could probably wrangle a decent season of TV just by having Spader stare at the camera for 22 episodes, it still isn't a great sign that many others have been leaving the show behind. 

Still, at least the Season 9 still has the "Liz's true murderer" storyline to keep things in relative order. The show's future won't have that luxury anymore, and knowing this, it's hardly a surprise that fans are conflicted about "The Blacklist" Season 10. The ending of Season 9 adds to the show's increasing pile of contrived circumstances with the return of Season 1 villain Wujing (Chin Han), who now knows about Red's informant status, and is apparently determined to unleash every available member of the Blacklist on him. 

It remains to be seen just how Season 10 plans to handle this, but it certainly seems that the show intends to push the pedal to the metal, regardless of how much its nature changes in the process. Combine this with the various departing characters and the fact that even the last traces of the Elizabeth Keen arc have now been removed from "The Blacklist," and it's pretty easy to conclude that whatever lies in the show's future might be big and bombastic ... but perhaps not quite "The Blacklist" you knew anymore.